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Every time I visit the South, I am reminded anew of how special and comforting Southern cuisine is. This Shrimp and Grits Recipe is one of the best ways to enjoy it, no matter where you live. Creamy cheesy grits are the perfect pairing with boldly-spiced baked shrimp!

cajun shrimp and grits on a plate with green onion

Why You’ll Love This Southern Shrimp and Grits Recipe

  • Southern Food Is the Best Food. Am I betraying my Midwestern roots by admitting this? The abundance of high-quality fried chicken (try this Air Fryer Fried Chicken Breast for similar vibes), cheese straws, and Sweet Potato Pie make Southern cuisine inviting and delictable. This cajun shrimp and grits recipe lightens up a classic Southern dish.
  • A Study in Contrasts. The succulent shrimp with creamy grits! The cheesy, buttery grits livened up by the Cajun spices in the shrimp! When you bring it all together, you have a perfectly balanced dish. It’s the same principle as this creamy Cajun Shrimp Pasta.
  • Lightning Fast. Shrimp, as we know from Garlic Butter Shrimp and Honey Walnut Shrimp, cooks quickly, and so do grits. You’ll only need 5 minutes of prep time and 15 minutes of cooking and dinner is done.
  • Hello, Lean Protein! Shrimp is a fantastic—and often over-looked—source of protein. This easy shrimp and grits recipe packs in 32 grams of protein per serving. (Want more protein-packed shrimp recipes? Try my Kung Pao Shrimp, Garlic Shrimp Pasta, or Bang Bang Shrimp Tacos.)

5 Star Review

“This recipe was absolutely perfect. This was much lighter but tasted exactly right.”

— Andrea —
creamy shrimp and grits in a bowl

How to Make Shrimp and Grits

The Ingredients

  • Shrimp. Protein-packed, quick-cooking, and delicious.
  • Shrimp Seasoning. A cajun-inspired mix of paprika, garlic powder, thyme, oregano, cayenne pepper, pepper, and salt. It’s smoky, a little spicy, and packed with bold flavors. Love these flavors?
  • Grits. Due to their mild, neutral flavor, grits are a blank canvas. In this recipe, they soak up the buttery, cheesy goodness and Cajun seasonings from the shrimp.

Ingredient Note

Make sure you’re using regular grits or quick-cooking grits for this recipe. Despite the similar name, quick-cooking grits are different from instant grits. Never ever use instant grits. Their texture is gummy and not appealing at all.

  • Butter. Grits and butter were meant to be. The butter helps ensure the grits are rich, creamy, and flavorful. Traditional grits often call for half-and-half, but I found the grits to be plenty rich and creamy without it.
  • Cheese. What goes well in shrimp and grits? Cheese does! Parmesan and sharp cheddar cheese pair perfectly with the Cajun seasonings and melt lusciously into the grits.
  • Green Onions. For a touch of freshness and crunch in this shrimp and grits recipe.

The Directions

making southern shrimp and grits recipe
  1. Combine. Slowly whisk the grits into a pan of boiling water.
grits for easy southern shrimp and grits recipe
  1. Simmer. Cook until the grits are thick and creamy.
cheesy grits for southern shrimp and grits recipe
  1. Add Remaining Ingredients. Remove the grits from the heat.
cheesy and seasoned grits for shrimp and grits recipe
  1. Stir. Keep stirring until the cheese melts.
seasoning shrimp for shrimp and grits recipe
  1. Season. Toss the shrimp with the seasonings and oil.
baking shrimp for shrimp and grits recipe
  1. Bake. Cook at 400 degrees F for 5 to 6 minutes.
perfect shrimp for simple shrimp and grits recipe
  1. Finish. Serve the shrimp over the grits with additional cheese and green onions. ENJOY!

Recipe Variations

  • Grill the Shrimp. Use the cooking method in my Grilled Shrimp Recipe instead of making the shrimp in the oven. You’ll add some smoky flavor to this shrimp and grits recipe!
  • Make It Milder. You can dial back the Cajun seasoning if you’re not a fan of spicy food. Alternatively, you can swap in my Grilled Shrimp Seasoning for a slightly different flavor.
  • New Orleans Shrimp and Grits. New Orleans is known for shrimp and grits that uses tomato. For a twist on this take, add halved cherry tomatoes with the green onions.
  • Shrimp and Grits with Bacon. Add cooked and crumbled bacon just before serving (try my Air Fryer Bacon or Oven Baked Bacon).
  • Cajun Shrimp and Grits with Sausage. Add cooked andouille sausage to the finished grits with the shrimp. (Fans of shrimp and andouille sausage, you’ll love my Cajun Shrimp Boil Foil Packets.)
  • Use Polenta. Both grits and polenta are made from ground corn, but polenta is a bit coarser and chewier. That said, if you prefer polenta or happen to have it on hand, you can use that for the base of this recipe.

Storage Tips

  • To Store. Refrigerate this shrimp and grits recipe in separate airtight storage containers for up to 2 days.
  • To Reheat. Gently rewarm leftovers in a pot on the stovetop over medium-low heat or in the microwave. 
  • To Freeze. Freeze shrimp and grits in an airtight freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.

Leftover Ideas

Leftover shrimp from this shrimp and grits recipe makes an excellent addition to pasta. Use shrimp to spice up this Avocado Pasta, or incorporate it into my Cajun Shrimp Pasta. Leftover grits are scrumptious with Air Fryer Bacon or sausage for breakfast.

new orleans shrimp and grits in a bowl with a fork

What to Serve with Shrimp and Grits

  • Saucepan. You’ll love this saucepan for everything from grits to sauces.
  • Baking Sheet. Perfect for baking the shrimp.
  • Cheese Grater. High-quality and incredibly easy to use.

Recipe Tips and Tricks

  • Grate Your Own Cheese. It adds a little more work to this recipe, but the payoff is worth it. Cheese grated fresh from the block melts smoother and creamier than the store-bought bags of shredded cheese. That’s because those bags of cheese have an anti-caking agent added (AKA the white powdery stuff) that prevents it from clumping in the bag and keeps it from melting smoothly.
  • Add the Grits Slowly and STIR. This is key to smooth, creamy grits without lumps.
  • Don’t Overcook the Shrimp. Shrimp cook FAST, so it’s dangerously easy to over-cook them! They’ll go from translucent to opaque and pink when they’re done cooking; they’ll also curl slightly into a C-shape.

Shrimp and Grits Recipe

5 from 7 votes
A creamy shrimp and grits recipe you can make at home! Easy southern buttery cheddar grits topped with Cajun roasted shrimp.

Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 15 minutes
Total: 20 minutes

Servings: 4 servings

Ingredients
  

For the Grits:

  • 3 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup uncooked quick-cooking or regular grits not instant
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated sharp cheddar cheese about 2 ounces
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese about 1 ounce, plus additional for serving
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onions white and green parts, plus additional for serving

For the Shrimp:


Instructions
 

  • In a saucepan, bring the water to a boil. Add the salt, then slowly add the grits in a thin stream, stirring constantly. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the grits thicken, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat, then stir in the butter, black pepper, cheeses, and green onions.
  • Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400°F. In a large bowl, stir together the olive oil, garlic, paprika, thyme, oregano, cayenne, salt, and pepper. Add the shrimp and toss gently to coat. Spread the shrimp in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Roast the shrimp for 5 to 6 minutes, until just pink and cooked through.
  • Serve the shrimp over the grits, sprinkled with additional Parmesan cheese and green onions.

Notes

  • TO STORE: Refrigerate shrimp and grits in separate airtight storage containers for up to 2 days.
  • TO REHEAT: Gently rewarm leftovers in a pot on the stovetop over medium-low heat or in the microwave. 
  • TO FREEZE: Freeze shrimp and grits in an airtight freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.

Nutrition

Serving: 1(of 4)Calories: 338kcalCarbohydrates: 25gProtein: 32gFat: 12gSaturated Fat: 6gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 210mgPotassium: 406mgFiber: 1gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 717IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 265mgIron: 2mg

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Erin Clarke

Hi, I'm Erin Clarke, and I'm fearlessly dedicated to making healthy food that's affordable, easy-to-make, and best of all DELISH. I'm the author and recipe developer here at wellplated.com and of The Well Plated Cookbook. I adore both sweets and veggies, and I am on a mission to save you time and dishes. WELCOME!

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21 Comments

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  1. Ooh girl, yes! There’s nothing like a perfect bowl of shrimp and grits, and we’re picky down here :) This looks perfect! I’m personally not a fan of the tomato+tasso style, and what I usually make is so intensive and cream- and bacon-heavy, so this is excellent for summer. I’m right there with you about the *appeal* of being Southern.. I stayed down here for college because I was so fascinated with the idea of the culture! There are definitely a lot of amazing grandmamas who are just like you would think, and we definitely do still retain that culture. But then in practice there’s just a lot of nuttiness that comes with it, too, which I could do without. I’ll have to share my cooked banana pudding recipe with you! Straight from a like 85-year-old woman who literally marched Selma. So cool, and soooo damn good!

  2. I never tried this grits before. It looks like rice but not exactly rice. Where to find this my dear? And just in case, i don’t have it at hand, can i use rice or something else as an alternative? Thank you for sharing!

    1. Hi Myrtice! Grits are available at nearly every grocery store in the aisle with the oatmeal. They are pretty unique (and inexpensive!) so they are worth seeking out. Hope you enjoy!

  3. hey! This Recipe looks good however I do not see where you stir in the Sharp Cheddar cheese and the Parm cheese. It only mentions the garnish Parm cheese.

    thanks

    1. Hi Donna! You’ll stir the cheeses in at the end of Step 1 with the butter. I hope you enjoy the recipe if you try it!

    1. Hi Sally! Many grits recipes call for a stick of butter and/or half-and-half, but this one only uses a pat of butter and cheeses. I hope you enjoy the recipe if you try it!

  4. So quick and easy. A lighter, but delicious spin on shrimp and grits. Used fresh gulf shrimp and instant grits. 15 minutes tops, and my family loved it!5 stars

  5. This recipe is the bomb!!! So easy and soooo tasty! We ended up having to use quick polenta instead of quick grits snd it worked out very well! I also sautéed up some chopped asparagus to throw on top. YUM!!!5 stars

  6. This recipe was absolutely perfect. When I was looking for a recipe for shrimp and grits, I couldn’t believe all the heavy cream and butter in almost every recipe online. This was much lighter but tasted exactly right. My husband and I both agreed that we couldn’t tell the difference between this and heavier versions we’ve had at restaurants. We added some chicken andouille sausage for fun and it was great. Thank you!5 stars

  7. Great recipe! My family loves shrimp and grits, but we are trying to eat lighter, so we needed to find another recipe. This was great! The grits were tasty and the shrimp was awesome – lots of flavor, fast and easy! I’ll make the shrimp again and toss it on a salad or in a corn tortilla.5 stars

  8. This was so delicious! The shrimp was perfectly cooked and we loved the seasoning. Unfortunately, there were no leftovers!5 stars

  9. Our family is from New Orleans–except for our grandsons. We’ve enjoyed several shrimp and grits recipes over the years, but to us, this is the best. I think it’s because of the Cajun roasted shrimp–kinda reminds me of barbecued shrimp at Pascal’s Manale restaruant in N.O. Absolutely every one of us went nuts over this shrimp and grits recipe–even the grandsons (maybe because I cut down on the hot pepper seasoning). It is outstanding! Gonna try your Cajun Shrimp Pasta next.
    Thanks for sharing it.
    Don5 stars

  10. 10/20, phenomenal! I pan sautéed the shrimp instead of baking it. Everything else, genuinely delicious.5 stars